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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping, groundbreaking epic that combines military with social history, to illuminate the ways in which Great Britain and its people were permanently transformed by the Second World War.

Here is the many-faceted, world-historically significant story of Britain at war. In looking closely the military and political dimensions of the conflict's first crucial years, Alan Allport tackles questions such as: Could the war have been avoided? Could it have been lost? Were the strategic decisions the rights ones? How well did the British organize and fight? How well did the British live up to their own values? What difference did the war make in the end to the fate of the nation? 

In answering these and other essential questions he focuses on the human contingencies of the war, weighing directly at the roles of individuals and the outcomes determined by luck or chance. Moreover, he looks intimately at the changes in wartime British society and culture. Britain at Bay draws on a large cast of characters - from the leading statesmen and military commanders who made the decisions, to the ordinary men, women, and children who carried them out and lived through their consequences - in a comprehensible and compelling single history of 46 million people. For better or worse, much of Britain today is ultimately the product of the experiences of 1938-1941.

©2020 Alan Allport (P)2020 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

Britain at Bay . . . might be the single best examination of British politics, society and strategy in these four years that has ever been written.” —Paul Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal

“Unusually informative and stimulating. . . . Quite a few received ideas are deftly skewered. . . . Valuable."  —Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The New York Times Book Review

"[Allport] moves with ease, wit and insight between the high political and diplomatic, the social and economic, the strategic and military, with biographical vignettes and anecdotes illustrating the lived experience of ordinary people. That it is an epic story there is no doubt. But the twist is that it is a tale of national decline on an epic scale.”  —The Times Literary Supplement 

What listeners say about Britain at Bay

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A History worth your read

I wish that I were a good historian so that I could critically evaluate this work. It was well written and enjoyable for anyone with an interest in history of WWII.

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Engrossing fresh look

Wonderful thought-provoking reflective presentation of a well known story. Instead of a recitation of the trees, this book shows the forest with all the both complex and mundane realities of pre and early Britain at war. Mandatory reading for any World War II history buff as providing “the rest of the story“… Not just the highlights.

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Interesting view of WW2 a new look

A contrarian way of viewing the traditional view of WW2. Some interesting takes on what happened and why. I find it interesting and makes me look at some things differently.

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Superb

Excellent narration, unique story. This book presents much information that may be new t to many readers. I will certainly listen to this book again.